The company that recommends individuals for QC status has bowed to pressure and donated £200,000 to hardship funds for barristers and solicitors struggling during the coronavirus crisis.

QC Appointments has given £100,000 each to the Barristers’ Benevolent Association and the Solicitors’ Benevolent Association to support struggling practitioners in immediate need. The Bar Council told barristers in an email that the arrangements are still being finalised.

In January, the Gazette revealed that QC Appointments, a not-for-profit company, had accumulated a £1.35m cash pile from silk application and appointment fees. Its 2019 financial statement said the reserves were ‘more than adequate’ and ‘it would be in principle desirable for the reserves to be at a rather lower level’.

The Public Access Bar Association (PABA) urged the Bar Council earlier this month to claim its share of the £1.35m cash pile to help lawyers during the pandemic. However, Bar Council chair Amanda Pinto QC said it is up to the QC Appointments to decide what role it plays to help lawyers. 

The Solicitors’ Benevolent Association has created a £1m emergency fund to support solicitors during the crisis. Meanwhile the Barristers’ Benevolent Association and the individual Inns of Court are offering support for counsel in severe financial distress, particularly young barristers and those who do publicly funded work.

The Law Society has donated £75,000 to the Access to Justice Foundation’s emergency advice appeal and £25,000 to the Law Centres Network’s emergency justice fund.